Club owners need to lead
Since the coronavirus crisis began, I’ve made it a point to communicate with several of my colleagues each day. I’ve found it a good way to stay connected, brainstorm and learn. Whether by phone, e-mail or text, I’ve been in touch with fellow club owners, industry experts and teaching pros—in fact, I’ve spoken with many teaching pros.
Even though I own a club, I consider myself first, foremost and always a teaching pro. The best part of my day is not at my desk looking at numbers, but rather on the court working and having fun with my players. I will be a teaching pro (hopefully) until the day I die, which is why I’m terribly concerned about the number of pros who tell me they’re feeling completely abandoned by their club.
I’ve heard, firsthand, stories of facilities closing weeks ago, and the teaching pros being notified via e-mail with words to the effect of: “We are closed until further notice. We will not be paying you during this time.”
And that is the last they have heard from their club.
Are you kidding me? In this time of crisis, it’s up to these club owners to lead. And they need to lead through support, compassion and communication.
Certainly, each facility owner must make business decisions based on their own individual situation. If you decide you are unable to pay your pros during the down time, that’s understandable. It is what it is. You must do what’s best for your business.
However, don’t just leave it at that. Many pros are living paycheck to paycheck and are scared. It’s our job to be there for them as best as we can. Help them through the unemployment process. Consider applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Do some research and make teaching pros aware of any other opportunities for help that might be available to them. I know of some owners who are sending their pros personal checks or having dinners and groceries delivered to their homes.
Above all, stay in touch. Your teaching pros most likely are feeling isolated, alone and worried about their future. Call them, text them, tell them you’re checking in to see how they’re doing. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help them. Let them know what you’re doing to plan for when you re-open and they come back. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Just knowing that you’re taking a personal interest will help to boost their spirits—and it will reap rewards long after you reopen your club.
When this crisis passes, all leaders will be evaluated on their performance. Your pros will say, “What did my facility do for me? Was the club there for me when I needed it?”
As club owners, when we reopen our doors, I think we all want to be able to welcome our pros back and know that we were there for them when they needed us.
Greg Moran is the Owner/Director of Tennis at Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, Conn.
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